My friend Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, recently brought his friend Lionel Richie to one of our regular meetings where we brainstorm ideas and exchange candid advice and a healthy dose of mutual admiration. So, with some of the smartest people I know, we held a personal branding strategy session for Lionel Richie.
Here’s a guy who has one of the most successful music careers of anyone alive today. He’s a true performer, who, like the greats — Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis — really engages the audience in music, personality, jokes and dialog. And, unless you were under a rock, you know that he also has a daughter Nicole, who he cares about deeply and who has become a pop idol in her own right.
Now you might imagine that Lionel isn’t short of great advisors and you might therefore assume that he would have already gone through a rigorous personal branding strategy, but, like so many of us, he hadn’t.
So we systematically went to work to understand his values and discussed his life mission. We uncovered aspirations — around education and the inner city, real estate, and other business ventures — much broader than the launch of his most recent album (which happens to be doing exceptionally well). And we set some short-, mid-, and long-term goals for him to achieve personally, professionally, and for the community that he cares so much about.
Lionel was blown away by such a business approach to managing a personal brand, and the impact it had on him was so significant in his mind that we sat down with Nicole last night as a favor for Dad. She is actually incredibly thoughtful and insightful.
Now you might be saying that this all sounds like a no-brainer, that Lionel should have known better. Well, what I fear is that all of us are guilty of not applying our business expertise to working on our most important asset — ourselves! — as much as we put to thinking about our companies’ brands.
Come on, don’t you personally deserve at least some of the rigor, time, and attention that you devote to your company? And if you do, what have you done so far and what are you going to do about it?